What is Demisexuality?

Demisexuality is a sexual orientation in which someone feels sexual attraction only to people with whom they have an emotional bond. Most demisexuals feel sexual attraction rarely compared to the general population, and some have little to no interest in sexual activity. Keep reading to understand more about this orientation.

What is the emotional bond demisexuals need for sexual attraction?

It varies based on the demisexual’s personal experiences and is slightly different for everyone. Emotional intimacy is a main component, usually, so some demisexuals find themselves attracted to close friends or romantic partners. Other components may include familiarity with the person and knowledge about them (ex: learning about aspects of their personality).

However, forming an emotional bond doesn’t guarantee that sexual attraction will happen. It is just a prerequisite for it to occur at all. The length of time required to develop an emotional bond may vary. For some demisexuals, it’s after several years of being close friends with someone, and for others, it might be a short but intense experience, such as traveling abroad for a week with them.

Isn’t it normal to only want sex after getting to know someone?

There’s a difference between feeling sexually attracted to someone and wanting to have sex with them. Sexual attraction isn’t something you can control—either you have sexual feelings for someone or not. You can’t force it to happen and you can’t force it to go away, so you don’t have a choice in the matter. Sexual behavior, on the other hand, is something you can choose to participate in, or not.

Most people on the non-asexual side of the spectrum feel sexual attraction regardless of whether or not they have a close emotional bond with someone. They may have sexual feelings for attractive people on the street, classmates or coworkers they’ve barely spoken to, or celebrities. However, they may choose to wait to have sex for a variety of reasons: it might not be feasible or appropriate, they want to make sure the person is respectful and kind, it’s against their religious beliefs, they only want to have sex in a romantic relationship, etc. The difference is that demisexuals don’t start out with these sexual feelings at all.

How does demisexuality relate to asexuality and the asexual spectrum?

Asexuality is a sexual orientation in which one feels little to no sexual attraction or interest in sex (the former definition is more widely used, but some asexuals use the latter definition. Both are valid and accepted.) Demisexuals are considered to be on the asexual spectrum, meaning they are closely aligned with asexuality, but not quite asexual. The asexual spectrum has asexuality on one end and non-asexuality on the other end.

Demisexuals are considered part of the asexual community because for the most part, they don’t feel sexual attraction. Many demisexuals are only attracted to a handful of people in their lifetimes, or even just one person. Many demisexuals are also uninterested in sex, so they have a lot in common with asexuals.

The thing that makes them different from asexuals is that they are capable of feeling sexual attraction—it’s just that it only happens after they form a deep emotional bond with someone.

How do demisexuals feel about sex?

According to the 2014 AVEN Census, two thirds of demisexuals are uninterested in and/or repulsed by sex. However, there is a significant portion that enjoys it. Demisexuals have a variety of feelings about sex and other sexual activities, like masturbating and watching porn, so it’s hard to make statements about the group as a whole. All feelings about sex are valid in a demisexual identity: the only thing that defines demisexuals is that they only feel sexual attraction after forming an emotional bond.

Whether or not they feel sexually attracted to someone or not, they can choose to have sex too. They might want to have sex in order to get pregnant, to see what it’s like, or some other reason.

Why do demisexuals need a label?

The label helps demisexuals form a sense of community and a stronger sense of self. Through this label, they learn that there are others like them out there, and that there’s a community to support them. In this community, demisexuals can talk to others who share the same experiences, share advice on navigating a very sexual world, and find emotional support. The community unites around this label, which helps its members feel more secure in their identities.

Many demisexuals grow up feeling different from those around them. Most people have their first instance of sexual attraction in their preteen years. From that point on, sex becomes a topic of curiosity and interest for them, and they eventually look forward to pursuing it. For children and teens in school, there is a lot of talk about sex—what it’s like, what it’ll be like, etc. This becomes more prevalent as they approach college and early adulthood.

Demisexuals often feel alienated by these conversations because they aren’t interested in sex, they don’t find people sexually attractive, or both. When the conversation turns to hot celebrities, for example, demisexuals may feel confused, and wonder what it is their friends see and feel. They wonder if they will eventually feel it too, and some even end up feeling “broken.” Knowing that there are others like them helps demisexuals feel less alone.

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